Winning a Social Security Disability Insurance benefits case takes time, organization, documentation and often an experienced Boston disability attorney.
At the end of the day, your claim will be decided based on its own merit and also how strong the argument made in your favor.
There are certain steps you can take to help improve your chances for success. There are also quite a few pitfalls to which many applicants fall prey that could prove detrimental to your case.
Every situation is going to be a bit different, but we wanted to take this opportunity to go over some of the very basic Do’s and Don’t’s to help you boost your odds.
First, let’s address some of the things that can help your claim.
- Hire an experienced disability lawyer. This is someone who is going to be with you every step of the way. He or she can handle the bulk of the paperwork, remind you of upcoming hearing dates and advise you of what kind of additional medical information could better your chances. It also means you will have one point person on which to rely, as opposed to having to deal with a bureaucratic run-around. Plus, there is no substitute for having a personal advocate in the courtroom. If you’re already coping with an illness, mounting an effective claim for disability can be a challenge. A lawyer can take care of most of the work for you.
- Find out if your doctor will be supportive of your disability case. If so, you’ll want to request that your doctor fill out a detailed statement, usually in the form of an RFC document, explaining why you are disabled and can’t work. Your attorney can make these inquiries and requests for you.
- Submit copies of your medical records and recent updates not only when you apply, but every time you appeal. Again, this is something about which your attorney can do for you.
- Keep tabs on the status of your disability case. Once more, if you have an attorney, this is something that he or she can take care of for you. Checking in allows the disability examiner to offer the suggestion that more paperwork might be needed. Calling allows the process to be expedited.
- Ask your attorney about options to have your case sped up. You may be able to submit a letter of dire need, a Congressional inquiry or an on-the-record review. Doing so won’t guarantee a faster hearing, but it may not hurt.
Now, let’s explore some of those pitfalls we mentioned earlier.
- Assume you aren’t able to afford a disability attorney. Most disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we aren’t paid until you receive your benefits with back pay. The maximum an attorney can collect is 25 percent of your back-due benefits, or up to $6,000.
- Play down your symptoms or try to condense them in your initial paperwork. A lot of people do this because they don’t think examiners actually want to read through all this paperwork or because it’s a lot of work to actually fully fill out these forms. But this is the job of the examiner’s, and you have a responsibility to provide a full and accurate picture of your medical condition.
- Collecting unemployment while you wait for your claim. This isn’t always an absolute don’t, but it’s usually a bad idea. The reason is because the two benefits are based on two very different premises: One is that you are able to work, but can’t find work, and the other is that no matter how much you want to work, you are unable to do so. We understand that money is tight, but talk to your disability attorney before you move forward with collecting these benefits while you wait.
- Failing to comply with your doctor’s treatment orders. Disability examiners will be closely looking at what kinds of treatment you prescribed and the outcome of that treatment. If you failed to follow the doctor’s recommendations, that could significantly hinder your chances of being deemed disabled.
If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Benefits for People with Disabilities, Social Security Administration
More Blog Entries:
Examining the Rise of SSDI: What NPR Got Wrong, April 2, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog